Written evidence from the Police Service of Northern Ireland, relating to The experiences of minority ethnic and migrant people in Northern Ireland Inquiry (MEM0030)
I write in response to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee’s current inquiry into the experiences of minority ethnic and migrant people living and working in Northern Ireland to provide you with further information from the Police Service of Northern Ireland which we hope will be of use in your deliberations.
Given the importance of the issue and the frequency with which it has been raised through your oral and written evidence gathering, we have confined our response to providing further information in relation to the levels of hate crime experienced by minority ethnic and migrant communities.
At the outset, the PSNI recognises that crime against minority ethnic and migrant communities, particularly racist hate crime, is on the rise. There are a number of possible explanations for this. It may be an actual rise in incidents, an increase in confidence to report, or both. We fully appreciate hate crime is historically under reported and we would encourage any victim to come forward. We have attached our most recent statistical dataset to provide an overview of the current landscape.
Working with other criminal justice partners and advocacy groups, we are fully committed to doing everything we can to prevent crime, increase confidence to report and improve criminal justice outcomes for victims.
To assist with the Committees deliberations, I have set out below some of the barriers that exist in effective policing of hate crime as well as work underway in the PSNI to improve how we deliver a visible, accessible, responsive and community-focused policing service for everyone living in Northern Ireland.
Barriers to effective policing of hate crime
What the PSNI is doing to improve
The PSNI strives to continuously improve and develop effective strategies to promote hate crime awareness, encourage reporting and improve confidence amongst victims and the public. Hate crime is specifically mentioned in the PSNI Annual Performance Plan 2021/2022 under Outcome 1: We have a safe community.
All hate crime is unacceptable and is of serious concern to the PSNI. We are committed to working with partners to prevent crime, increase confidence in reporting and improving criminal justice outcomes for victims.
The PSNI is determined to continue to make positive steps towards building public confidence in the Police’s ability to effectively prevent and tackle racist hate crime.
We look forward to considering the Committee’s findings and welcome the opportunity to provide any further information that may be of assistance.
Appendix A: Incidents and Crimes with a Hate Motivation Recorded by the Police in Northern Ireland (Racist Motivation chapter)
Following a decline in levels of racist incidents and crimes between 2009/10 and 2011/12 increases were seen each year between 2011/12 and 2014/15 (the highest recorded in the series). Levels have trended downwards since 2014/15 with the exception of increases seen in 2018/19 and 2020/21. The number of incidents recorded in 2020/21 is the eighth highest in the data series, with the number of crimes being the seventh highest.
Figure 1 Trends in racist incidents and crimes recorded by the police since 2004/05
Since 2016/17 racist incidents have tended to reach their highest levels around September or October each year, with the lowest levels recorded between December and March; August 2019, April 2020 and June 2020 are an exception to this pattern. Figure 2 shows the pattern of racist incidents over the last five financial years and the emerging pattern in the current financial year 2021/22.
Figure 2 Police recorded racist incidents each month April 2016 to June 2021, showing highest and lowest levels in each financial year
In 12 months from 1st July 2020 to 30th June 2021:
Figure 3 Racist incidents recorded by the police July 2019 to June 2021
Figure 4 Racist crimes recorded by the police July 2019 to June 2021
Table 2 Racist incidents and crimes recorded by the police
Violence against the person offences
Theft (including burglary) & criminal damage
All other offences
Total crimes (racist motivation)
Not all racist incidents will result in the recording of a crime, as what has occurred in the incident may not be of the level of severity that would result in a racist crime being recorded. Some racist incidents will result in multiple crimes being recorded. Racist crimes are included in the incident count and the two should not be added together.
Figure 5 shows how racist incidents are broken down into those with and without crimes.
In the twelve months to 30 June 2021 there were 1,142 incidents recorded by the police where there was a racist motivation. Of these, there were 435 incidents which did not involve a crime (i.e. incidents where the circumstances did not amount to an offence being committed). The remaining 707 incidents involved one or more crimes (amounting to 839 racist crimes in total). Around two in five incidents recorded in this time period did not result in a crime being recorded.
Figure 5 Racist incidents and crimes
When comparing the current and previous 12 months, six policing districts showed an increase in the number of racist incidents, with seven showing an increase in the number of racist crimes. Belfast City policing district, which accounts for around two out of five racist incidents and crimes recorded in Northern Ireland, showed an increase in both incidents (144) and crimes (123). [Table 3]
Table 3 Racist incidents and crimes recorded by police, by policing district
Lisburn & Castlereagh City
Ards & North Down
Newry, Mourne & Down
Armagh City, Banbridge & Craigavon
Fermanagh & Omagh
Derry City & Strabane
Causeway Coast & Glens
Mid & East Antrim
Antrim & Newtownabbey
No Area Assigned
Figure 6 Change in police recorded racist incidents and crimes by policing district, 12 months to June 2021 compared with the previous 12 months
Ethnicity: Different ethnicity classifications have been used within the PSNI crime recording systems since 2007/08. Table 10 in the accompanying spreadsheet reflects racist crimes by the ethnicity of the victim grouped by Asian, Black, Mixed/Other and White ethnicities. The historic classifications that are no longer available for selection on the NICHE system are separately identified. These may still be identified in the data where the victim details were recorded while the historic classifications were in use.
Nationality: Table 11 in the accompanying spreadsheet shows the nationalities of victims of racist crime. These figures are based on nationality only and do not take into account the victim’s ethnicity.
Ethnicity and Nationality combined: Not all victims of the same nationality have the same ethnicity. This is particularly evident for those victims of racist crimes who identify their nationality as UK and Ireland. Table 12 in the accompanying spreadsheet shows the most frequently recorded victim nationalities for each ethnicity. This makes it possible to see, for example, the number of victims with UK and Ireland nationality who have Asian, Black or White ethnicity. This can also be seen in relation to a number of other nationalities.
Figure 7 Ethnicity of victims of racist crimes, July 2020 to June 2021
The ethnicity of victims of racist crimes is available in at least 76 per cent of records, while the nationality is available in at least 74%
 Crime per 10,000 population based on mid-year population estimate of 1,895,510 for 2020, the latest mid-year estimate available at time of compilation. Mid-year population estimates are available from the NISRA website.